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Tooth abscess

 


A tooth abscess is the formation of a pocket or lump filled with pus on a tooth. A tooth abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. This condition can appear around the roots of the teeth or on the gums. 

Bacterial infections that cause tooth abscesses generally occur in people who have poor dental hygiene and health. Pus that collects in the lump will gradually worsen the pain. 

Tooth abscess

A tooth abscess is divided into several types, namely:

  • Peripheral abscess, which is an abscess that appears at the end of the tooth root
  • Periodontal abscess, which is an abscess that appears on the gum next to the root of the tooth and can spread to the surrounding tissue and bone
  • Gingival abscess, which is an abscess that appears on the gums

Causes and Risk Factors for Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess occurs due to the development of bacteria in the oral cavity. Bacteria can enter the tooth through holes or cracks in the patient's teeth, then cause swelling and inflammation at the root tip. 

This bacterial infection will be more likely to occur in someone with the following conditions:

  • Unclean teeth
Not taking proper care of your teeth and gums can increase your risk of developing dental and oral diseases, including abscesses. 
  • Foods high in sugar
Frequent consumption of foods and drinks with high sugar content can cause cavities and develop into tooth abscesses. 
  • Dry mouth
Dry mouth can also interfere with dental health and cause infection and tooth abscess. 

Tooth abscess symptoms

The main symptom of a tooth abscess is pain in the tooth or gums that can come on suddenly and get worse. Other symptoms that can appear in sufferers of tooth abscesses are:

  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Pain when chewing and biting
  • Toothache that spreads to the ears, jaw, and neck
  • Discolored teeth
  • Sensitive to hot or cold food
  • Bad breath
  • Redness and swelling of the face
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or under the jaw
  • Hard to breathe

When to go to the dentist

It is advisable to see a doctor immediately when symptoms appear so that the tooth abscess does not get worse. A tooth abscess can cause dangerous complications for the sufferer, namely an infection that spreads deeper into the jaw, head, and neck. 

Immediately go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital if symptoms of a tooth abscess appear, accompanied by swelling of the gums and lymph nodes, especially if there are complaints of shortness of breath. 

Dental and oral health checks need to be done regularly at the dentist. This aims to maintain the health of the oral cavity as well as prevent or detect disease earlier. An examination by the dentist is recommended every 6 months. 

Diagnosis of Tooth Abscess

In the early stages of the examination, the dentist will ask about the patient's complaints and symptoms. The doctor will also carry out a physical examination of the teeth and oral cavity as a whole. 

During a physical examination, the doctor will tap the patient's teeth. The goal is to find out if the tooth is more sensitive to touch and pressure, as is common in people with tooth abscesses. 

Next, the doctor will carry out a supporting examination, which includes:

  • X-ray photo
Dental X-rays are taken to find out how extensive the infection is and whether it has spread to other parts. 
  • CT scans
The CT scan aims to detect the possibility that the infection has spread to other, more distant areas, for example, the neck area. 

Tooth Abscess Treatment

To get rid of infection and pus, the dentist can take the following steps:

1. Pus discharge
The doctor will make a small incision in the abscess lump and drain the pus. After the pus is drained and the tooth area is cleaned with salt water, the swelling will decrease. 

2. Giving antibiotics
Antibiotics are actually not needed if the pus removal procedure has been carried out. New antibiotics are given when the infection has spread. 

3. Root canal treatment
Root canal treatment can help get rid of the infection. The doctor will drill the tooth to the bottom to remove the soft tissue that is the center of the infection and drain the pus. After that, the tooth that has been perforated will be fitted with a dental crown. 

4. Tooth extraction
If the abscessed tooth cannot be saved, the doctor will remove it. After that, pus will be removed to remove the infection. 

While still in the healing stage, the patient will be advised to undergo home treatment to relieve pain, namely gargling with salt water and taking pain relievers. 

Dental abscess complications

Patients with untreated tooth abscesses are at risk of experiencing several complications, including:

  • Dental cyst
  • Sinusitis
  • Osteomyelitis or bone infection
  • Ludwig's angina or phlegmon in the floor of the mouth
  • Sepsis, or a deadly immune system reaction due to an infection that has spread throughout the body,

Tooth Abscess Prevention

The most important way to prevent a tooth abscess is to prevent tooth decay. Some steps you can take are:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Use dental floss to clean between your teeth every day.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly, every 3 months.
  • Avoid using mouthwash after brushing your teeth because it can eliminate the benefits of toothpaste.
  • Reduce consuming foods and drinks that contain sugar and flour, especially between meals or before going to bed.
  • Regularly check your dental health with the dentist every 6–12 months. 

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